Norma Gutierrez, director of college counseling at Saint Thomas Academy, has earned the Distinguished Service Award for 2020-2021 from the Minnesota Association for College Admission Counseling (MACAC). The award honors a veteran of MACAC who has contributed to the organization and its programs and has made a positive difference in the lives of students.
The nominator said of her, “Norma always goes out of her way to advocate for her students at Saint Thomas Academy, to help show the colleges that this individual student should NOT be overlooked. Norma writes personal and beautiful recommendation letters, always is willing to chat and advocate for her students and works hard to make sure each of her students is placed in a school that is a right fit for him.”
Since joining Saint Thomas Academy in 2014, Gutierrez has expanded the Academy’s offerings to help students and their families make sound decisions about post-secondary options. Among the unique offerings Gutierrez and her staff offer is “College Bound,” a full-year elective course to prepare juniors for the college application process, testing and college itself.
In addition to College Bound, Saint Thomas Academy's college counseling department is responsible for:
- Leading several family information sessions on financial aid, college athletics, military academies and ROTC.
- Facilitating an admissions simulation night when students and parents act as a college admissions committee charged with deciding who to accept for enrollment.
- Hosting Monthly College Counseling Coffee & Chats with parents on various topics related to the college applications and such.
- Hosting multiple parent information nights each year: one each for parents of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors; and two general sessions for parents of seniors.
- Helping students research possible scholarships and apply.
- Proctoring ACT exams as an open host site and SAT exams for Academy seniors.
- Participating in the private school college fair.
- Hosting frequent campus visits from college admissions representatives.
- Hosting multiple area visits for military academies. These information nights are open to any student in the Twin Cities.
“Norma and her team do an incredible job educating our students and their families on the college admission and financial aid processes,” said Kelby Woodard, headmaster. “They meet with every student individually and help him explore his options, apply to multiple schools and access scholarships. I’m so pleased her hard work has been recognized with this distinguished award.”
Prior to joining Saint Thomas Academy, Gutierrez served 16 years as assistant director of the University of Minnesota Office of Admissions and 6 years as a social worker in various healthcare settings. She has been a long-time member of MACAC, which she has served as a mentor, a member and chairperson of the professional development committee chair, a member of several other committees and a board member, including a 3-year cycle as president. Gutierrez has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Loyola University and a master’s degree in social work from Tulane University.